After multiple towns in Daraa governorate surrendered to the Syrian government yesterday, five towns were entered by the Syrian Army today (Western Ghariyah, Eastern Ghariyah, Jizah, Kahil, Sahwat al-Qamih), while one was secured by Russian military police (Dael). Several more towns (Busra al-Sham, Taybah, Umm Mayathin, Naseeb) also agreed to reconciliation, although the Syrian Army has not yet entered them
In addition, the Syrian Air Force’s helicopters dropped bombs on the towns of Naimah and Ghasm, killing six civilians in the latter town and reportedly injuring more.
There are still a few towns along the border with Jordan which have not surrendered to the government, although their position is becoming more untenable as more towns surrender. This will likely cause a ‘domino effect’ where town after town gives up as each town realizes their neighbor will not support them.
The massive collapse of rebel-held areas in Daraa could spell trouble for areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces in the northeast of the country. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly stated his intention to retake all of Syria, including areas controlled by the US-backed SDF. Before the tide of the war turned in 2015 with the Russian intervention, these statements seemed laughable, as the Syrian Army was not in a military or political position to make these demands. However, now that the government controls the vast majority of the country, it is not unreasonable that towns held by the SDF would negotiate a surrender to the government if threatened by a large Army assault. The primary determining factor in such a situation would be the position of the US, as the US withdrawal for support for the rebels was key in the ongoing rebel defeats.
This wave of surrenders was prompted in part by the rapid Syrian Army advance over the last few days in eastern Daraa governorate. Rebel forces were unable to mount any counterattacks, and were not even able to put up an effective defense against the Army onslaught. Constant Russian airstrikes, numbering in the hundreds, also degraded rebel forces in the region. In addition, the United States and Jordan, two of the main backers of the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, recently withdrew their support after it became clear that there was no point to continuing to resist the Assad government.